The final draft of the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) of live organ transplants has laid down stringent norms for transplants in the state, including verification of the family photos of donors and recipients, and photographs of the operating doctor to be clicked with patients just before the surgery. The SOP is set to be submitted to the advisory committee, from where it will go to Health Minister Deepak Sawant. Once the minister’s nod is in, Maharashtra will become one of the few states in India to lay down strict transplant rules.
The requirement of the doctor and patients getting a photograph together is taken from the Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojana (RGJAY), to establish the donor’s identity on paper and surgeon’s role in the procedure.
The family photos of the donor and the recipient will be scrutinised by the hospital’s local authorisation committee — that approves an organ transplant — to verify their relationship. While inspection of photographs is also part of the Transplantation of Human Organs Act, 1994, it is seldom followed by any hospital in practice, observed health officials at the Directorate of Health Services (DHS).
Confirming the new SOPs, DHS director Dr Satish Pawar said, “The CM has also asked for counselling of donors and recipients. A documentary will be made explaining dialysis, why an organ transplant is required, what the procedure involves, and post-surgery care necessary for donors. The video has to be shown to donors and recipients in a separate counseling room before the transplant is finalised.”
Just before the surgery, the SOP states, the donor’s face should be verified by a photograph submitted on an identity proof and a picture should be clicked along with the operating surgeon. In RGJAY, a similar procedure is followed by the government to sanction insurance claims to the hospital.
The measures to monitor transplants more stringently come after an inter-state kidney racket was busted at the Dr L H Hiranandani Hospital in Powai. On July 14, the Powai police had stopped an illegal transplant between donor Shobha Thakur and Surat-based recipient Brijkishore Jaiswal, who had allegedly presented fake documents to present Shobha as his wife.
To detect forged documents, the government is also planning to make Aadhaar Card identification mandatory along with verification by the local police. “But police verification may stretch the approval procedure to two-three months. It will require physical verification of the address and the identity of person,” a health official said.
The delay in approval may become a matter of distress for patients requiring urgent transplants. Following the arrest of five senior doctors from the Hiranandani hospital, urologists and nephrologists had stopped transplants, demanding they not be held accountable if a patient produces fake documents.
The city has 72 registered transplant hospitals, of which 12 private hospitals had stopped the surgeries fearing irregularities in paperwork. On Wednesday, however, all hospitals agreed to re-start transplant procedures following a discussion with DHS officials.
“They have been assured that SOPs will be laid down in few weeks. Till then, patients should not suffer,” Pawar said. A senior health official, however, indicated that hospitals and doctors cannot shy away from accepting responsibility of verifying a patient’s identity. In the new SOP, roles of doctors and hospitals will also be laid down.